Who has to pay Council Tax

Winchester City Council decides who is liable to pay the council tax at each property in accordance with regulations which are made by the Government. Usually the resident (owner or tenant) of the property is liable to pay council tax. If the property is not anyone's main home then the owner will be responsible. You must be aged 18 or over to be liable for council tax.

How we decide who is liable to pay

The following list is used to decide who is liable for council tax. The person(s) liable is determined by reference to the list below in descending order:

  1. A resident at the property, who is the freeholder
  2. A resident at the property who is a leaseholder
  3. A resident at the property who is a statutory or secure tenant, e.g. Council or Housing Association homes
  4. A resident at the property with a licence to occupy the property
  5. Any other resident
  6. The owner (if no one lives in the property as their sole or main residence), e.g. second homes

When it isn't clear

Sometimes we may need more information to determine who should pay the council tax bill.

When people live or work abroad, or spend their time living between two properties we have to decide which is the main home. The regulations, together with case law, will help us to work this out. If your living arrangements are not straightforward then please telephone the Local Taxes Section. If necessary we will send you a questionnaire.

Owner's liability

The owner (rather than the resident) of certain types of property is always liable for council tax. These properties are:

  • Residential care homes and nursing homes
  • Properties lived in by religious communities
  • Houses in multiple occupation (where the residents pay rent separately for their own room or part of the property)
  • A property which is the main home of someone in domestic service and occasionally lived in by the owner.
  • Homes of ministers of religion, from which they perform their duties
  • Properties provided for asylum seekers

Joint and several liability

Where two or more people fit into the same category they are jointly and severally liable for paying the council tax which means joint responsibility for paying the whole bill. For example joint owners and joint tenants are responsible for ensuring the whole council tax bill is paid and not just a 'share' each of the bill.

If a liable person has a partner (married, or living together as man and wife) then that partner is also joint and severally liable.

If the council tax bill is unpaid, or partly unpaid then the Council can pursue one or any number of the joint and severally liable persons.

What if I share a house or flat with other people?

Deciding who is liable for the council tax bill will depend on the type of tenancy agreement you have.

Joint Tenancy Agreement

If you hold a Joint Tenancy Agreement then all those named on the agreement are liable to pay (provided their sole or main residence is at the property). Provided we know all of the tenants' names, you will all be named on the bill. Remember you will be joint and severally liable.

Individual Tenancy Agreements

If each resident holds a separate agreement with the landlord, then usually the landlord is liable to pay the Council Tax.

Sometimes we may ask to see a copy of the tenancy agreement(s) if the situation is not straightforward.